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Google gobbles map app Waze

Gold coins lure Pac-Man map app into Chocolate Factory

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Google has acquired crowd-sourced map app Waze, and the company behind it.

The acquisition gives Google a map app that uses data generated by some 50 million or so users to provide real-time traffic updates and accurate directions even when you drive off the beaten path.

"We are excited about the prospect of working with the Google Maps team to enhance our search capabilities and to join them in their ongoing efforts to build the best map of the world," the company announced on Tuesday. The buy, whose terms were not disclosed, will likely generate melancholy at Google-rivals Facebook and Apple, who had both expressed interest in the Israeli company.

Waze launched in 2009, and is a free app monetized through "location-based advertising". One of its unique features is the scattering of Pac-Man-like pellets across its maps to encourage users to explore little-known areas in exchange for fame among other Waze users.

Like so many modern tech companies, Waze hasn't yet figured out how to extract oodles and oodles of cash from mobile, and this could be another reason why the company opted for the embrace of Google rather than an IPO.

"Choosing the path of an IPO often shifts attention to bankers, lawyers and the happiness of Wall Street, and we decided we'd rather spend our time with you, the Waze community," the company wrote. "Google is committed to help us achieve our common goal and provide us with the independence and resources we need to succeed. We evaluated many options and believe Google is the best partner for Waze". ®

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